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Chaos of the Stade de France: UEFA dismantles Darmanin’s figures


Gérald Darmanin took it for his rank on Tuesday June 21 as UEFA officials, Liverpool and Real Madrid supporters followed one another in front of the Senate to report on the chaos that reigned around the Stade de France on the evening of the Champions League final on May 28. Ted Morris, representative of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association, demanded an apology and even the resignation of the French interior minister. Martin Kallen, managing director of UEFA Events, for his part completely questioned the figures given by Gérald Darmanin during his own hearing three weeks ago.

The role of Gérald Darmanin was repeatedly mentioned on Tuesday when parliamentarians this time heard from a senior UEFA official, two representatives of Liverpool supporters, a Real Madrid supporter and officials from the Football Supporters Europe (FSE) group. In question, the minister’s accusations a few hours after the serious malfunctions in the organization of the final: Gérald Darmanin had castigated the English supporters, presenting the thesis of a “massive, industrial and organized fraud of counterfeit tickets” creating disorder.

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Gérald Darmanin’s thesis was therefore weakened by the hearing of Martin Kallen, general manager of UEFA Events, a subsidiary of the European body responsible for commercial event operations. While Gérald Darmanin had maintained before the senators the controversial number of “35,000 supporters” provided, according to him, with falsified tickets or without tickets, this Swiss leader dismantled this figure. “We know that we had around 2,600 tickets brought to the turnstiles that were fake,” said Martin Kallen.

“But a lot of counterfeit notes never arrived at the turnstiles (…) How many? we don’t know, we couldn’t really check. We do not believe that was the figure mentioned after the first days in France, more or less 30,000 to 40,000,” he said.

The floor was also widely given to foreign supporters. “You, sir (Darmanin), have humiliated the inhabitants of Paris. Your endless lies and false stories have only amplified our trauma, ”said Ted Morris, representative of the Liverpool Disabled Supporters Association, present at the Stade de France on May 28. “I ask you to withdraw your brutal and baseless accusations and, if you do not have the decency to do so, you must choose the most honorable course and resign,” he said.

“Traumatized”

In front of the senators, Ted Morris read the testimonies of “traumatized” disabled supporters, victims of robberies or attacks by local gangs in Saint-Denis or sprayed with tear gas by the police. “It’s the most terrifying experience I’ve ever had in Europe with Liverpool,” he said, recalling the trauma Liverpool suffered in 1989 at Hillsborough, where 97 supporters were killed in a gigantic movement crowd.

Member of the Spirit of Shankly supporters group, Joe Blott also asked the French authorities to “retract” their accusations and to present “full apologies”, pointing to France’s damaged reputation. “To ensure the safety of supporters at the Rugby World Cup (in 2023, editor’s note) and at the Olympic Games (2024) in the coming years, a full, independent and transparent investigation is needed so that the world regains confidence in the France’s ability to organize global sporting events,” he said.

For now, UEFA announced at the end of May an investigation entrusted to the former Portuguese Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Tiago Brandao Rodrigues. Martin Kallen clarified that the latter had started its work “this week” and could deliver its conclusions “in September”.

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In the meantime, the Swiss leader has issued some recommendations. Like for example “working as much as possible with electronic tickets”, “having more work on the perimeters” of security, or “having better communication with the actors in place”.

For Martin Kallen, paper tickets, which are easier to falsify, were less appropriate than certified electronic tickets. But “it’s not just the paper tickets that have created chaos outside the doors,” he argued. “The causes are multiple: transport strike, bad reactions from stewards, law enforcement, there were offenders (in the perimeter, editor’s note), an extremely large flow in front of the stadium without tickets or with counterfeit tickets , he argued.


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